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Your social media and outsourcing questions answered by our small business expert

Your social media and outsourcing questions answered by our small business expert

What Franchise’s resident business agony aunt Angie Coates, founder and CEO of Monkey Music, answers your business and entrepreneurial conundrums

How important is social media in the modern day marketing mix?

I have vivid memories of the first time I sat in front of my own computer. It was 1998 and Monkey Music had been accepted by the British Franchise Association as an associate member. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I splashed out on a pink iMac G3. The thick translucent plastic and unusual gumdrop shape made the iMac exceptionally cool and for several years I dragged it round everywhere.

Looking back, the thrill of communicating with my customers through the iMac taught me to celebrate and embrace the advances of modern technology. Today, this can often be seen in the different ways we market to our customers via social media.

I’m hooked on spreading the word about our brand by choosing the best places to talk on social media. By creating an inspiring campaign and being in the right spot, the likelihood is that people will notice us and our businesses will grow.

So it’s vital we use social media to attract new audiences. If, like me, you think in pictures, plan your social media strategy by drawing a picture of your target audience - stick people are fine. Next, put your stick people against their preferred choice of social media channels. Finally, decide what you would like to say and create a unique message that suits the channel you’re using. Once you’re out there, don’t forget to track how much people are paying attention.

While devising your social media strategy, consider how the same message may look in other areas of your marketing activity, as social media should only form part of a layered marketing approach. Good luck - it’s not easy, but it’s always fun!

Should I outsource the tasks I no longer have time to do or employ staff to deal with them in-house?

The first thing is to make a list of all your tasks with a note of how often they occur. A ‘regular task’ will need to be prioritised on a regular basis, whereas a more ‘ad hoc task’ may be able to be completed at a quieter time.

The second thing to do is to consider the ‘type of task’ - does it require specialist expertise or is it more administrative or process driven? The third thing is to make a note of how long the tasks take to complete.

Once you have this information, look to see if there is already someone in-house who could take on additional work. My own preference is to work with an in-house team. Is there someone already in the company who fits the bill and who may be willing to increase their hours to take on additional work? Or is there someone who would seize the opportunity to move up to a new role, giving way to a new recruit in their role?

Alternatively, if the tasks are more specialised, it may be that the time has come to employ an additional member of the team, from outside the company, who will support you so you can grow the business. If the tasks are specialised and you can’t afford to employ someone specialised immediately, perhaps your strategy could be to outsource for the short term, with a long-term goal being to recruit someone to work in-house.

Having said all that, I’m a great fan of work placement students and if you choose wisely they are super-fast, super-flexible and super-smiley. So depending on the nature of the tasks, they may offer the perfect fit.

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